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Chronic tension shoulder office work pain hurt headache back Emsworth chiropractic chiropractor osteopath osteopathy headache neck migraine muscle business Hampshire injury posture

Solving the mystery of: Chronic shoulder tension

Chronic shoulder tension. Knots in your upper back. Stiffness, headaches, neck pain. Sounds familiar? Yep- we see chronic shoulder tension a lot in clinic- but allow us to explain why simply treating the shoulder isn’t going to solve the issue.

Firstly, muscles don’t work alone.

Our body moves and functions through a combination of movements in a coordinated group of muscles, ligaments, fascia, tendons and joints. Back pain is our bread-and-butter as chiropractors, and we know from both research and experience that pain in the back doesn’t necessarily mean a problem in the back. That pain could be caused by a problem somewhere completely different- something that often causes a bit of confusion when you come to see us for pain in one area and we end up treating somewhere completely different.

Chronic tension shoulder tension office work pain hurt headache back Emsworth chiropractic chiropractor osteopath osteopathy headache neck migraine muscle business Hampshire injury posture latissimus bodybuilding strength stamina stability exercise training health fitness sport

Here’s why…

Let us paint you a picture. You work in an office. You’re stuck at a desk all day, sitting on your behind, slouched and worn out by 5PM. Your shoulders are tight and sore, and you can feel the knots building up in your upper traps, giving you a thunderous headache by the end of the day. Now, you know those knots and tense muscles are going to cause problems of their own, so you had an upper back massage two days ago and they should be feeling better… but they’re not. So is the problem the upper traps and shoulders, or is it something else?

Chronic tension shoulder tension office work pain hurt headache back Emsworth chiropractic chiropractor osteopath osteopathy headache neck migraine muscle business Hampshire injury posture latissimus bodybuilding strength stamina stability exercise training health fitness sport
The latissimus dorsi muscle- isn’t it a beauty?!

Let’s look at the latissimus dorsi.

It’s a muscle that originates from the spinous processes of T7-L5, the iliac crest around the top of the pelvis, the thoracolumbar fascia in the middle of our back, the lower border of the shoulder blade and the lower 3/4 ribs. (Yep, it’s massive!) All those fibres attach to the humerus (the long bone in the top of your arm). Why are we talking about a muscle in the lower back? Surely a muscle in the lower back controls the lower back, right? Wrong. The lat dorsi actually serves to extend, adduct, flex and internally rotate the shoulder, and lends a mere helping fibre or two to extend and laterally flex the spine. (In case you’re interested- it also helps with our lung function and breathing. Safe to say, it’s a pretty important muscle.)

So, back to you sat at your desk.

You’re slouching, your lumbar spine is curved and unsupported, so your latissimus dorsi is stretched beyond the norm and the fibres can’t fire properly. As a result, the muscle can’t complete the role it’s supposed to, the upper trapezius steps in to help and is left to do all the hard work controlling the shoulder itself (Just like that last project your boss asked you and Jane to do together and Jane left it up to you to do all the hard work- thanks Jane….) This leads to imbalance and weakness in both the lats and lower traps not to mention a very grumpy upper trapezius. You’ve tried treating the site of the pain (with that amazing back, neck and shoulder massage) and it feels better for a day or two afterwards but then it comes back.

Chronic tension shoulder office work pain hurt shoulder tension headache back Emsworth chiropractic chiropractor osteopath osteopathy headache neck migraine muscle business Hampshire injury posture
The Posture Oblique Sling Source: tonygentilcore.com

It’s fairly obvious by now that the problem with your tight and knotty upper traps isn’t caused by your shoulders- it’s something further afield.

So we have to look elsewhere- we look at your lower back and find that your latissimus dorsi is, surprise surprise, not happy with life. Now we’ve found that we also need to look at the Posterior Oblique Sling.* The POS includes the latissimus dorsi, glut med (in the back of the hip) and the thoracolumbar fascia (in the middle of our back.) *NB When we talk about one of the “slings” in the body, we’re talking about a specific group of muscles, fascia and ligaments which all work together to stabilise and mobilise the body.

Guess what we find when we examine you?

Your lat dorsi isn’t firing properly, which is throwing off the stability in the posterior oblique sling. Your lower back is stiff and restricted, and you can’t laterally flex properly- further compounding the problem with the latissimus dorsi (remember us saying it helps with lateral flexion of the lumbar spine?) So you can see how you’re caught in a vicious circle of dysfunction creating more dysfunction, and, in your case, leading to chronically tight shoulders that just never seem to get better!

The above is just an example of a classic case we often see in clinic.

Now, there are approximately 640 muscles in the human body, all intricately involved with the others in a chain of movement, that can have a chain of consequences if something in that chain misbehaves. To state the obvious again- each person we see is an individual, and the way dysfunction comes about is different for each person, as is the way in which the body adapts to that dysfunction.

As chiropractors, our job is to work out what’s going on and why (and then work with you to get it better) and this often involves looking at areas that might be quite far afield from where the actual pain is felt- but as you can see, there’s a reason for that.

Back pain children chiropractic Hampshire Emsworth babies shoulder tension
Source: simplebackpain.com

P.S. Poor posture affects kids too!

So where to begin? How can you improve your posture and reduce pain and problems? We’d suggest starting with some simple exercises, and downloading your copy of “Understanding Pain” which will help you get to grips with chronic pain, what’s going on in your body and how you can take back control!

Alternatively, and perhaps best- is to seek professional help and get a diagnosis and treatment plan put in place. You can get started by booking your appointment today.

 

Five top tips for avoiding sailing injuries and back pain

Living and working in Emsworth and Langstone, you’ll know that sailing is an inherent part of our community here (so much so, we’ve included some photos taken by Philippa of our lovely harbour!) As such, it’s not uncommon for us to be treating professional or recreational sailors in clinic, and whether you compete professionally or just enjoy a turn about the Solent, sailing poses as much a risk of injury as with any sport.Sailing windsurfing sport water exercise fitness health sail sailor boat boating yacht yachting dinghy barge windsurf chiropractor chiropractic physiotherapy physiotherapist osteopath osteopathy injury exercise health hampshire langstone emsworth fareham Sailors often compete in extremely difficult conditions, battling high winds and rough seas, and as such the risk of injury during sailing is 8.6 per 1000 hours sailing when training, and 2.2/1000 otherwise.  In a study on the 2003 America’s Cup, researchers found that the upper limb was the most commonly injured body segment (40%), followed by the spine and neck (30%), and the most common injuries were joint/ligament sprains (27%) and tendinopathies (20%). (1)

Who is at risk of injury?

Mastmen are at greatest risk of acute injuries, helmsmen most commonly injury the upper-limb through steering, whilst grinders and bowmen are at the greatest risk of injury from repetitive strains.  High repetition activities such as hiking, pumping, grinding and sterring are major causes of overuse injury, even in the most experienced of sailors.  Windsurfers are also frequently admitted to hospital suffering from chronic lower back injuries as a result of “pumping” the sail.

 

Sailing windsurfing sport water exercise fitness health sail sailor boat boating yacht yachting dinghy barge windsurf chiropractor chiropractic physiotherapy physiotherapist osteopath osteopathy injury exercise health hampshire langstone emsworth fareham
Windsurfing in Emsworth- photo taken by Philippa!

It’s not just the professionals who are at risk of injury, as novice and recreational sailors commonly encounter acute injuries such as contusions or abrasions after colliding with the boom or other equipment whilst performing manoeuvres. (1)  Not only that, but there are other perils to consider:  tripping over ropes, winches and cleats; being swept overboard or falling down open hatches!

 

How and why do sailing injuries occur?

[clickToTweet tweet=”What are the main contributors to #sailing #injuries? Find out here! #Chiropractic” quote=”The main contributors to sailing injuries are: Heavy weather (23%), tacking (17%), jibing (13%), sail change (12%) and alcohol (7%)”]

  • Injuries may result from a lack of general fitness, overuse, overtraining, or macrotraumatic accidents.

  • Lack of warming up, stretching, and cooling down may also increase the risk of injury.

  • Muscles are placed at high risk when performing explosive, powerful moves, such as those frequently required when sailing.

  • Shoulder and arm injuries are common through constant handling of the mainsheet, and the sudden, strong movements in hiking may lead to back and knee problems.  (Remember Sir Ben Ainslie’s back injury? This was caused by repetitive, high strain hiking out!)Sailing windsurfing sport water exercise fitness health sail sailor boat boating yacht yachting dinghy barge windsurf chiropractor chiropractic physiotherapy physiotherapist osteopath osteopathy injury exercise health hampshire langstone emsworth fareham

  • Inadequate leg strength and poor hiking technique are thought to predispose the knee to injury.

  • Boats can be difficult to navigate around and result in crew members having to adopt awkward positions, often resulting in rotating, hyperextending, locking, or twisting of joints.

  • Incorrect lifting technique (more advice on this here!)

  • Postural problems are common in the majority of the population, and these inherent issues can lend themselves to musculoskeletal problems.

  • Poor fitness training may exacerbate common muscular imbalances associated with changing forces on opposing muscle groups while sailing.

If ignored, it is easy for these issues to progress into a chronic problem, the possible severity of which could impact on your participation and enjoyment in the sport.

So what can be done about it? Five simple steps to avoiding sailing injuries!

  1.  A robust exercise regime is crucial, which should focus on all aspects of physical fitness in order to ensure that your body can cope with the demands of sailing.
    – Cardiovascular training
    – Strength training (Competitive sailors should undergo regular health screening with specific strengthening of high-risk muscle groups, synergists and stabilizers. )
    – Flexibility training
    – Core stability training
    – For more advice on bespoke rehabilitation plans, please email us at acorn@acornhealth.org.uk or visit our Langstone clinic.
  2. Research has shown that aerobic training and fitness is directly related to an improved reaction speed to wind shifts, as well as enhanced endurance, decision making, and concentration, particularly in the later stages of races. Mental and physical recovery is faster for those who are physically fit. Suggested types of aerobic exercise that are most appropriate for sailors are rowing, cycling, swimming, stair climbing, or running.(3)/li>
  3. Regular checkups can help ensure joint movement and function is maintained, as well as provide an opportunity for assessment of joint strength and function.  Not only will this help reduce the risk of developing injuries, but it can also speed up recovery should you become injured.
  4. Technical skill and expertise is important– if your technique needs improvement, seek out advice and informed coaching to help minimise the risk of developing an injury as a result of poor technique.
  5. Taking frequent breaks and changing positions during long periods of sailing. This will help prevent postural stresses and strains from occurring and is a healthy spinal habit we all should follow.

Whilst we have focused on musculoskeletal injuries, there are a number of other safety measures to take into consideration. Above all, always wear a life jacket when sailing. In the UK, there were 35 sailing or water-sport related deaths at sea in 2014 alone. Safety at sea should always be taken seriously.

Want more advice or information on this topic? Email us at acorn@acornhealth.org.uk or call the clinic on 01243 379693.

Boat sailing acorn health chiropractic

References:
1. Neville, V., Folland, J.P. (2009) The epidemiology and aetiology of injuries in sailing.  Sports Medicine. 39(2) 129-145.
2. Nathanson, Mello, Baird “Sailing Injuries and Illness – Results of an Internet-based survey” Wild Env Med 2010
3. Allen, J.B., De Jong, M.R. (2006) Sailing and sports medicine: A literature review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 40(7) 587-593.

7 simple steps to choosing a new mattress

The clocks are going back, and speaking of time, is it time for a new mattress?  It can be difficult trying to work out which one is going to be the best for you (and your partner!)  Did you know it’s recommended that you replace your mattress every seven years? A recent survey of over 2,000 adults found that more than one in ten (11%) adults have never replaced their mattress at all and the same number would only do so if they slept better on a different bed!

So, to make the decision easier for you, we’ve put together our six top tips for choosing a new mattress.

So which mattress should I choose?

  1. We’re going to let you in to a little secret… There is no single mattress style or type that works for all people with low back pain. Ultimately, if you find a mattress that means you sleep without pain, then that’s the one for you.  Choose the mattress that you find comfortable, which will depend upon your height, build and personal preference.
  2. Memory mattresses. Love it or hate it, memory foam can be a fantastic solution as it allows your mattress to support every contour of your body.  The only issue is, memory foam can be very expensive, and can cause sleepers to overheat.  If you’re committed to a full memory foam mattress, look for one with ventilation to stop you cooking gently overnight.  We’d suggest a memory foam toppers as it’s more affordable than a full memory foam mattress but offers many of the same health benefits as a full memory foam mattress.
  3. Balance.  Achieve a balance between back support and comfort. The old way of thinking was that a firm mattress offers more support, but what we know now is that it can cause pressure points as you have fewer areas of your body in contact with the mattress.  A medium-firm mattress may be more comfortable as it allows your shoulders and hips to sink in slightly.  If you want a firmer mattress for back support, we’d suggest one of those memory foam toppers we’ve mentioned earlier.
  4. Sleep quality is pivotal for those with low back pain so pay attention to the mattress components.  Mattresses can play a huge part in disturbed sleep- if you’re tossing and turning all night, you’re going to keep your partner awake.  Equally, you’re not getting a restful night’s sleep and there is a strong link between sleep quality and pain.   Mattresses with multi-zone pocket springs or unlinked pocket springs are a fantastic choice to eliminate partner disturbances- linked pocket springs tend to relay movement to adjoining springs, creating a ripple of movement across the mattress that’s bound to wake your partner up.  You could also explore the option of zip or link beds if you still can’t avoid waking each other up!
  5. When testing a new mattress, have someone look at the position of your back when you’re on the bed. If you are lying on your side on the bed, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and it should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard). The longer you can spend lying on a mattress before you buy it, the more accurate you’ll be able to tell if it’s the right mattress for you. Take your partner with you when you go to test them out.
  6. Don’t forget to try new pillows with your new mattress. There’s no point spending several Sleeping chiropractic back pain new mattress neck pain osteopathy physiotherapy Hampshire Emsworth Sussex Chichester Sleeping Posturehundred pounds on a new mattress if your pillows are as old as the hills- it’s important that you have a pillow that appropriately supports your head and neck too.
  7. Lastly, think about the height of the bed too.  If you have the world’s most perfect mattress but can’t physically get out of the bed comfortably, it’s not going to help with your back pain.  Make sure you can get in and out of the bed with relative ease before you commit to buying.

So, to summarise:

  • Choose the mattress that you find comfortable.
  • Consider a memory foam topper before investing in a full memory foam mattress.
  • A medium-firm mattress (with or without topper) is a safe bet.
  • A multi-zone pocket spring or unlinked coil spring will reduce partner disturbance.
  • Spend as much time lying on the mattress as possible before you buy it.
  • Your pillow needs to be appropriately supportive too!
  • Can you get in and out the bed easily? If not- don’t buy it.

A good night’s sleep is hugely important in recovering from any type of pain or injury.  If you need help or advice on coping with your pain, don’t hesitate to contact us on 01243 379693 or book an appointment here.

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Acorn Health © 2014 - 2022

Website Created by WebHolism